200,000 urged to evacuate as volcano erupts in Java

200,000 urged to evacuate as volcano erupts in Java

PanARMENIAN.Net - Thousands of people are evacuating their homes in Indonesia after a volcano erupted in east Java, according to BBC News.

Mount Kelud spewed ash and debris over a large area, including the city of Surabaya, about 130km (80 miles) away. Some towns are reported to have been covered by a 4cm (1.6 in) layer of ash.

Three major airports in Surabaya, Solo and Yogyakarta were forced to shut down because of low visibility. There are also fears that debris could damage aircraft engines.

Officials raised an alert on Thursday, Feb 13, around an hour before the volcano erupted, and urged around 200,000 people living in 36 villages in a 10km (6 mile) radius around the volcano to evacuate. However, it is not clear if they have all left their homes.

There are reports that two people died as a result of the eruption, however these have not yet been verified by officials.

Some of the evacuees tried to visit their houses on Friday morning to gather clothing and valuables, but were forced to turn back by the continuous stream of volcanic ash and rocks from the volcano.

The volcano spewed ash and gravel that flew as far as 200km (124 miles) away, National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

The roofs of some houses reportedly collapsed under the debris.

The nearest town from the volcano, Kediri, looks completely grey and white, the BBC says.

The 1,731-m (5,600 ft) Mount Kelud - which had been rumbling for several weeks - erupted at about 21:50 local time (16:50 GMT) on Thursday.

However, the head of Indonesia's Volcano and Geology Agency, Hendrasto, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, said the eruption was gradually subsiding.

The volcano last erupted in 1990, killing dozens of people. A powerful eruption in 1919 killed around 5,000 people.

Indonesia lies across a series of geological fault-lines and is prone to frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. There are around 130 active volcanoes in the country.

Earlier this month, Mount Sinabung on the island of Sumatra erupted, killing at least 14 people.

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